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    Senior Member hawghangar's Avatar
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    Backpacking Noob: solo trip (pic heavy)

    I'm a kayak guy and never had to seriously worry about weight or volume of my gear when camping... A combination of HF posts about backpacking, and some world class wilderness areas in my "backyard", inspired me to purchase a pack and some gear and attempt some hiking/camping.

    I bought a ULA Catalyst pack which was both a blessing and a curse. The blessing is that it is very comfortable and will hold a ton of stuff. The curse is that it will hold a ton of stuff. Due to the large carrying volume of the Catalyst, it didn't force me to be very selective about what I took. My pack was stupid heavy, but I had some new gear that I wanted to test so I loaded it up. My plan was to hike a couple of miles into the Buffalo Wilderness Area to set up a base camp - and then do some bushwhacking day hikes from the base camp (without my ultra heavy pack).

    I didn't get to the trailhead until about 5:00 PM in the midst of a steady drizzle of rain... only had about 2 hours of daylight so just hiked in about a mile or so to set up camp. Due to the late hour, I had to stop before I planned and get a camp set up:

    These pics don't do the slope justice... really shows the versatility of hammock camping. Despite the steady rain all night, I stayed toasty dry. The HH Hex fly worked great. However, my pack got soaked despite my attempts to wrap it up via a pack cover and large trash bag. With the late hour, and steady rain, it was a cold camp dinner. However, this was the view out the "front door" in the AM:

    The next morning, I broke camp and packed everything up... although the pack was soaked, my dry bags worked really well. Not sure use of dry bags inside the pack is the most effiicent way to pack, but it sure kept everything dry. Hiked about another 1.5 miles into Hawk Hollow, and found a better campsite alongside a great little creek:

    This little pool ended up being my drinking water for two days (MSR water filter kit worked great - very easy):

    I got the camp kitchen set up:

    Hot, made to order, breakfast:

    ...and a steak filet for dinner:

    This was the first time I used the Four Dogs wood burning stove... it worked great. Amazing how long you can keep a simmer going with a handful of twigs.

    I finally got to do some day hike bushwhacking... just had the old compass and a topo map - my old orienteering skills (hadn't used them in a LONG time) worked with surprising accuracy... found this small waterfall (about 25' fall):

    Then, reversed course to find this beauty... it starts from this seemingly calm flow:

    ...and then becomes:

    ...ultimately a 75 ft fall:

    and the tailwater below the plunge pool:

    For first trip, it was a success. I have a new respect for you UL guys - I've got a long way to go to get my pack weight down to a manageable size. My biggest lessons learned:

    1. I took WAY too much food; enjoyed the fresh meat, but it required a bit of bulk and weight (and cleanup was a PITA). I can understand the convenience of dehydrated bags - just add water and no dishes to cleanup.

    2. I had a 3L water bladder in my pack and one 1L Nalgene bottle; next time, I will leave the water bladder home and take a second 1L Nalgene. The bladder seemed to consume too much volume in the pack - and not very useable once I got camp set up.

    3. I need a new, lighter, winter sleeping kit. With only a 40* TQ, I'm forced to use my Big Agnes 15* sleeping bag (and I took the ultra heavy insulated air core) to sleep in and stuff the 40* TQ under my SS pad. This is not optimum sleep kit for back packing. A new UQ may be in the future.

    4. I need to whittle my "necessities" to the bare minimum - and practice loading my pack. I used about 5 or 6 dry bags to load my gear into and then stuffed them into the pack - seperated bedding from hammock from clothes, etc... Not sure if this is best system or not, but when my pack got wet, it kept my gear dry. I've watched Shug's video where he stuffs everything into a trash compactor bag in the bottom of the pack - wonder if this would work better?

    It was a great trip... I've got a lot to learn and adapt to get more efficient at this "new" camping concept. Thanks for all the great info on HF - this could be fun.
    Last edited by hawghangar; 03-20-2013 at 11:29.

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